By Carrie Greenough, 2nd year MS Candidate in ES&P
Prior to coming to Plymouth State I worked at an environmental consulting firm and gained a strong passion for lake science. During my time there, I came to the realization that all the work that we were doing to figure out these systems was futile without collaboration with stakeholders. If the solutions we came out with were not reasonably priced, or if the customer did not see the need to implement it, the research would often be filed away in a filing cabinet never to be seen again. I came to PSU to round myself out as a scientist and to gain experience in the integration of science and decision-making. Scientists often complain that decision makers ignore their input but if scientists want the science to be heard they need to make it more accessible and they need to present it in a usable format.
This past November I attended and presented a poster at the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) Conference in Banff, Canada. The location was beautiful and the science and passion that was presented was amazing. I have been attending the NALMS conferences for a few years now and every year I am amazed at some of the work that is being done. This year’s theme was “Science to Stewardship: Balancing Economic Growth with Lake Sustainability”. I found this theme extremely interesting, especially considering my current drive to learn more about gaining a sustainable balance between development and conservation.
At this conference I discovered how everyone seems to be facing similar issues, and not just the overarching themes surrounding climate change. Currently I am researching the valuation of scenic views with Dr. Shannon Rogers. We are looking specifically at the alterations that large-scale energy projects impose on the landscape. While I saw a clear connection between the conference’s theme and this topic, I did not think that my poster would be highly visited at the conference, because I thought it didn’t have a very obvious direct connection to lakes and we were at a lake management conference. To my surprise, I was heavily visited and many people had interest in our research and what we were finding. People from all around came over and expressed how areas they were living were facing similar issues and how they wanted to know either how to make these green energy projects more acceptable to people in their watershed or how to prevent these projects from coming in.
The conference proved to me even further that we need to involve people in the research we pursue and the decisions we make. It made it even clearer to me that coming to PSU was a good decision and that learning how to involve stakeholders and learning what stakeholders to involve is extremely important if we want anything to be accomplished.